Dating is not always what meets the eye.

Dating is no longer limited to familiar people and those you interact with or see frequently. The proximity effect is the tendency for physical and psychological nearness to increase interpersonal liking. (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, p.355) People tend to start dating those that live close by, they work with, or they went to school with. This was due to how easy it was to meet someone at one of those places, become friends, notice an attraction, and as a result start dating. An old saying I heard growing up and that fits the above scenario was, familiarity breed’s attraction.

However, as technology advances, the world appears smaller due to new avenues being opened to meet people. There are online gaming sites where one can play video games with people on the other side of the world. There are chat rooms where people can meet and talk about like interests. There are social meet-up groups and it allows people to meet together to participate in a common interest. While the above situations aren’t designed for people to meet and start dating, it has happened in numerous situations. Lastly, there has been an explosion of dating websites that have infiltrated the web.

While the proximity effect has been popular and lasted for many years, the online dating scene is taking over. There are the popular eharmony and These two websites connect people based on your answers to various questions you are asked. These sites have worked well because it takes away from the mystery of dating by connecting people looking for a more serious relationship. It also helps people be able to connect on their values and beliefs. Recently, there have been dating sites with religious affiliation like christianmingle or jdate to help connect people solely on their beliefs.

According to statistic brain, 48 percent of women and 52 percent of men are using an online dating service. Roughly 20 percent of committed relationships began online and 17 percent of marriages resulted from online dating. It seems that for some, people are able to meet and be in relationships. On the reverse side, there are also horror stories with online dating resulting in terrible first dates or relationships. People will always put their best foot forward online and try to make themselves appear better than they are. This happens a lot with people putting up pictures of themselves when they were 10 or 20 pounds lighter, less wrinkled and less grey. This is the risk one takes in meeting someone online, this is why it’s important to meet in a public place and have a way out on standby.

There is no right or wrong way to date, there are just many more avenues opening up. It is very important to try and get to know the person before meeting in order to limit any surprises. One way to do that is by using smart phone apps such as facetime or skype. This allows people to talk to one another while looking at each other. What you see is what you get.

Online dating statistics. (2014) Retrieved from

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381

1 comment

  1. Jennifer Theresa Cass

    You bring up a good point about as technology progresses, dating is not necessarily based on who you are near on a regular basis. Physical proximity is not necessarily what stems relationships all the time anymore. However the way I see it, proximity effect refers to physical and psychological nearness to others tends to increase the interpersonal liking (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Meaning that liking someone is not only due to physical nearness, but can be due a sense of psychological nearness.

    Someone does not have to physically be near someone, but interactions through different media can allow individuals to feel close mentally. Take your example of people in chat rooms for example, individuals may not physically be in close proximity to each other, but the interactions they have with each other can may cause psychological nearness. Feeling close to an individual even if it is mentally, can increase interpersonal liking. It still has to do with who an individual interacts with, just does not necessarily mean that they interact with them in person. I think with technology advancing, we have shy away from the perception that proximity refers to just a physical aspect.

    Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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